President Trump has spent months wishing away the coronavirus. But with cases spiking and the U.S. death toll approaching 130,000, that clearly hasn’t worked. So his administration has a new plan: convince people to just “live with” the virus.
The administration is “crafting messages” meant to “convince Americans that they can live with the virus,” the Washington Post reports. They want kids back in school, people back at work, and a certain level of viral death to be an accepted cost of American life:
White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.
There are some obvious flaws in this strategy. For starters, convincing people to “live with” tens of thousands of new cases and hundreds of new deaths a day will require convincing them that there’s no other choice. Other countries prove that’s not true. Indeed, differences across states show that decisions by leaders have the power to shape the trajectory of the outbreak.
Trump doesn’t seem concerned about these strategic flaws. The pivot to encouraging people to just “live with” coronavirus has already begun. Over the weekend, the president said “99 percent” of coronavirus cases are completely harmless, a completely made up statistic with no grounding in reality. But as Trump encourages people to go back to pre-pandemic living, the long term effects of COVID-19 are believed to include “impaired lung function, neurological problems and cognitive deficits,” according to the Times.
Even if you disregard the long-term effects — which is a bad idea — having the virus can be brutal. Some people have even reported symptoms that last several months. And, as has become obvious to all but the willfully ignorant at this point, getting the virus endangers all of the vulnerable people you come in contact with. Not everyone will be able to “live with” it, because they’ll be dead.